NKBA 2003 Design competition: Best Overall Design

by WOHe

NKBA 2003 Design competition:
Best Overall Design


A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points,
but it took circular reasoning to solve the challenges facing
designers Dan McFadden and Debbie Larson with this award-winning

“The client wanted a kitchen that was an absolute
showpiece but it had to work, because she cooks challah bread every
Friday,” explains McFadden, president of Past Basket Cabinetry, in
Geneva, IL. “However, she also wanted high style. It had to be
contemporary and yet feel warm an organic contemporary

Additionally, the kitchen had to include completely
separate storage for two sets of dishes to accommodate the family’s
Kosher beliefs. “It does provide for a unique challenge, but the
obstacle of having to duplicate didn’t make one bit of difference
in terms of the aesthetic value of the kitchen,” insists

In fact, it was McFadden’s ability to meet a wide
array of functional challenges without compromising the stunning
aesthetics of the design that earned him top honors in the 2003
National Kitchen & Bath Association Design Competition, as well
as first-place honors in the Design Competition’s Category 4 Open
Plan Kitchens.

The kitchen, which won the James H. Foster, Jr.,
CKD, Memorial Award for Best Overall Design, immediately draws the
eye with a circular motif that is repeated throughout the room,
culminating in a dramatic centerpiece a skylight with a spectacular
halo lighting effect above the black honed granite island.

“[The circular island] was the original concept I
had for the kitchen, the pivotal point,” McFadden explains. “The
island is the preparation area. The architect and interior designer
collaborated in making that even more of a feature by designing a
circular skylight that halos the island. Then they went one step
further and designed a custom chrome circular lighting

While the stunning skylight and light fixture are
among the first things one notices upon entering the room, the
kitchen takes function as seriously as it takes fashion, not only
making a great design statement, but also making good, common sense
in terms of everyday use.

For instance, to address the homeowner’s Kosher
cooking needs, the designers selected cabinets with sliding glass
doors by Quality Custom Cabinetry. “[The cabinetry] has a center
divider that keeps the dishes completely separate from one
another,” McFadden explains. “That was a really nice solution that
would work in a non-Kosher kitchen, too.”

The Miele dishwasher also had to be raised up a
foot off the floor to accommodate the homeowner’s back problem.
“That was another little challenge it interrupts the counter space
directly adjacent to the sink,” McFadden notes. “But, we made the
dishwasher seem like its own component.” The raised appliance is
conveniently located directly across from the tall sliding glass
door cabinet that houses the client’s glassware, place settings and
serving pieces. It was then cleverly concealed to appear as if it
is a 45″ high drawer base adorned with its own pilasters.

A five-foot-wide polished green granite baking
center also added function to this busy kitchen. “It’s lower than
normal countertop height good for kneading dough,” says

Functional shelves were placed above the granite
counter to hold the microwave and other small appliances. When not
being used, a sleek, commercial- grade, stainless steel, rolling
tambour conceals it all.

“Typically, ‘tambour’ is sort of a dirty word in
upscale kitchen design because they’re little wood slats and they
look outdated,” admits McFadden. “But, in this application, it’s a
[metal] product that fits the overall design.”

The design also includes two Sub-Zero refrigerators
that are opposing each other. “One refrigerator is on the wall with
the clean-up sink,” notes McFadden. “That wall has a plate rack
above the sink and is sort of unfitted and wouldn’t look as good if
it didn’t have a completely integrated refrigerator.”

Rich, deep cherry, natural maple and stainless
steel are intermixed throughout the space to provide contemporary
The center section of the island is raised, and includes a
custom-designed maple knife block whose shaped profile acts as a
graceful transition between the upper and lower counter

Hardwood flooring; a GE microwave; a DACOR cooktop,
oven and warming drawer; custom-fabricated vent hood, combined with
Universal Metals ventilation, and fixture and fittings by Barber
Wilson & Franke complete this spectacular design, a
collaboration between McFadden and Larson; architect, Mike Collman,
Wexler/ Collman Architects; builders John and Rich Harty, John G.
Harty Ltd., and interior designer, Tony Stavish, A.W. Stavish

McFadden concludes, “This was a very nice
collaborative effort where each person who had a design influence
really contributed to their area.”

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